Mr. Speaker, there is obviously a fundamental difference here in terms of the approach to the development of the nation. There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of development agencies.
I will start by thanking the hon. member for Kelowna for all of the good work that he has been doing with the Central Okanagan Community Futures Development Corporation.
Community futures development corporations are funded in large part by regional agencies. They play a very important part in the economic development of rural and non-rural western Canada. The Central Okanagan Community Futures Development Corporation is part of western diversification's western Canada business services network.
Since his election, the hon. member for Kelowna has continued his good work by meeting with management of this community futures development corporation to discuss the corporation's business plan. He has continued by attending that community futures development corporation's networking evenings for small business. In September 1996 he was one of the opening speakers at the Central Okanagan CFDC's annual meeting, where I am told that my hon. colleague spoke glowingly of the achievements of the community futures development corporation.
I say to the hon. member: Good work. Keep it up. He knows that these community development futures corporations have a niche, that they are filling a need, that they work and that they do help in the creation of thousands of jobs.
At the same time I must confess that I find it strange why this member, who knows the benefits that the regional economic development agencies provide to small and medium size businesses, would put forward a motion to disband these agencies.
Regional economic development is, without a doubt, one of the cornerstones of our nation. The federal government has promised to pursue economic development and to promote equal opportunity for all Canadians. Whatever our party or background, we must agree that strong regions contribute to a strong Canada.
The federal government, the industry portfolio in particular, plays a critical role in pooling and marshalling the resources that businesses in Canada need. Canada's regional development agencies are largely responsible for the development and delivery of these resources across the country. They exist to help businesses in the regions develop and grow to meet the challenges of the globally competitive world.
I am very proud to be responsible for our regional agencies. Let me give members a few reasons for that.
In my province of Manitoba, western economic diversification, as lead federal agency for federal assistance, hit the ground running during the Manitoba flood with its economic recovery efforts. The mobile restart program, le program mobile de redémarrage, took applications on the spot, returned in a week with a cheque, provided $8.8 million to almost 2,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Over 1,000 businesses have been helped with WED providing more than $13.4 million, cost shared with the province of Manitoba.
Helping displaced fishers, for example, affected by changes in the west coast salmon fishery, WED brought together federal departments and 12 community future development corporations, made over $5 million available for small business planning and financing. Fishers can begin their own businesses.
The western Canada business services network plays a key role in creating jobs and fulfilling needs in that part of the country. There are also community futures development corporations, commonly known as CFDCs. Service centres for women entrepreneurs, business service centres and WD's own offices are other examples.
We have more than 100 points of service in western Canada, more than 1,000 volunteers in the network and another 325 people working at WD. They serve most urban centres and small towns like Morris, Manitoba, Bruno, Saskatchewan, and Bonnyville, Alberta. This goes to show that these centres are not serving only or mostly larger cities. Their primary focus is small towns and rural areas.
I want to tell this House very briefly about some success stories. Barbara Dale from Edmonton came to Alberta Women's Enterprise Initiative Association with an idea for a business in 1996. She received business planning help and qualified for a $100,000 start-up loan. Last year her company, Labour Now Industrial Staffing, had sales of over $1 million and is forecasting $4 million for this year.
Each of WED's products and services must meet the needs of a specific client group, follow the agenda of the federal government in terms of economic development, provide key needs of small business, information and capital.
Canada Business Service Centres, les Centres de services aux entreprises du Canada, are an important element in this economic development.
WED is a managing partner in the west. Last year these organizations took an average of 33,000 requests for information and 50,000 website hits every month.
With respect to the loans and investment fund, WD makes contributions to loan-loss reserves to raise capital for small business from financial institutions.
For every dollar invested by WD, financial institutions invest eight. As a result, $420 million was made available to small and medium size businesses. WD helps businesses fill in loan applications. Loans are administered by financial institutions at arm's length from WD.
While still a new program, more than 240 loans totalling $55 million have already been approved. Also, CFDCs have granted more than 1,500 smaller loans, which helped create 2,500 jobs in rural areas in western Canada.
Look at WED's efforts with aboriginal peoples: contribution of $950,000 given to the Aboriginal Business Development Centre in Winnipeg to encourage entrepreneurship among urban aboriginals; a contribution of $5 million toward Saskatchewan Indian Federated College.
To promote linguistic duality, $1.6 million was granted to the Manitoba bilingual communities' economic development board to help 11 bilingual municipalities further their economic development. Other investments were made in other western provinces to meet the needs of francophones.
For the youth employment strategy, four programs: the international trade personnel program, first job in science and technology, the western youth entrepreneurship program, and the community economic development internship program. Let me give a concrete example of what this has done.
Glas Aire Industries in Vancouver, an automotive accessories manufacturer, hired a graduate under the ITPP to try to crack the Japanese market. It resulted in contracts with Nissan and Toyota. Omar Essen, general manager of the company said “Our Japanese success is largely due to WD”.
On partnership agreements, we are currently negotiating five year agreements with four western provinces to collaborate, work together and co-operate on economic priorities. Alberta's is in place. We are nearing completion with three other infrastructure works programs.
WD is the federal delivery agent in the west with over 5,200 projects approved, more than 33,000 jobs created by that program. It is clear that WD is helping to build a strong economy in the west. It is equally clear that a vibrant economy in one part of the country benefits all other parts of the country.
I could speak much longer but I will finish by saying that WD works. I have given many examples. There are literally hundreds of others.
Mr. Speaker, you and I and perhaps a few others know that what is good for western Canada is good for Canada. What is good for western Canadians is good for all Canadians. My colleagues could make similar comments with other regional development agencies that exist and which are tailor made to respond to the unique needs of other regions of the country.